Reno--Almost the Hollywood of the Truckee Meadows?
Created: March 07, 2017
Written by: Debbie Hinman
Reno—home of a motion picture company? And a studio occupying one city block in the Old Southwest? And an investor/business manager/secretary who bears the same name and well may have gone on to become an Academy Award-winning director? Hard to believe, isn't it?
When Reno's new soccer team chose the name "Reno 1868 FC," it brought back some memories of times I had spent with an old friend at the Nevada Historical Society. My friend is quite old now, rough around the edges, and stained with years of use. Small strips of tape hold her backside together in spots and her golden skin is brittle. (No Karalea, I'm not talking about you.) The friend I speak of is Reno's first map—150 years old next year—and what I believe to be the most precious artifact in our city's history.
HRPS just published the Winter 2017 FootPrints newsletter with Debbie Hinman's important article about Reno's Gould family history. In 1879, Warren Hill Gould purchased a large, one-year-old, Victorian house on Mill Street, where the Washoe Mill Apartments reside today at 1375 Mill Street just east of Renown Regional Medical Center. I remembered that back in 2005 I was struck by the vast age difference between an old, dilapidated, tan building at this location and the more modern apartments north of it. I snapped a few photographs of the scene and promptly forgot about it. When Debbie was researching her Gould family article recently I looked back at the photos I had taken of the old building in that area and discovered that the name "Gould" and the number "1301" were marked prominently above one of the doors.
What a difference three decades make. The building in the foreground is the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum at 490 South Center Street. It was built in 1964 to house the Reno City Hall. In the background is the 1996 Bruce R. Thompson U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building which stands at 400 South Virginia Street.
On a chilly day in May 2015, I was struck by the interesting contrast between the Hughes/Truckee Lane Building and the towering Arlington Towers across West First Street. They contrast for obvious reasons: style, color, size, and era built, for example. I took what I thought was a pretty darn good photograph and was about to turn away when I noticed a young man, sitting on the cold, hard concrete bench to my right. His bike was propped up nearby and he was strumming a guitar. As I was looking at this fellow, another person walked over to a trash can right in the middle of the scene I had just photographed. This person had a red head covering, and over a leather coat wore what looked like a light-colored serape.
There's a small tree growing in front of the house at 1610 Mayberry Drive in Reno. Its trunk and branches are made of bricks and its leaves are made of stone. A bird has found a nice nesting place in one of its upper branches and small live plants peek out from here and there. The man who built this little tree is a retired mason. (Well, masons who love their craft don't really retire, they just stop getting paid for their work.)
Peter Duffy—who, through his Sartorial masonry business has done plenty of restoration work around Reno on historical buildings, walls, porches and pillars—now loves to create these unique, whimsical trees when and where he can. Recently, I spoke to him about this particular tree, which stands quite alone on the large retaining wall in front of his house, and he said he has considered building more trees to join it, but he feels a little self-conscious doing the work out on the street.
Pshaw I say. I believe anything nowadays that can catch our eye and bring a smile to our face deserves our support. I think we need more reasons to smile and I hope Peter delights us with more of his brick and stone creations. If you agree with me, please say so in the comments section of this blog. (If you don’t agree with me, please check out another fine article on this website.)
Horace Countryman was the first homesteader in what would become the heart of Reno. He arrived in Nevada in 1861 with his wife and five children (and Horace's four brothers and their families). They first settled in the Washoe Valley area and by 1863 the whole clan had moved north to the new settlement on the Truckee River. Horace Countryman paid $1.25 per acre for 127.54 acres of land north of the river, west of Lake's Bridge. On this land he and his family lived in the house below (according to Annie Prouty in her 1917 master's thesis published in the Nevada State Historical Society Papers, Vol. IV, 1923-1924).
In reading Kim's post about Bright Shiny Objects (otherwise known as BSOs), I found myself shouting, "Yes!" and stamping my foot because this happens to me constantly when doing research. I have always called them rabbit trails but BSOs is a much more descriptive term. Thank you, Kim!
In my response to Kim's post, I mentioned "the Freedom Movement" which I wrote about some years ago. This was totally a bright shiny object that followed on the heels of another BSO I became fascinated by. Here's how this fascination led me to a now non-existent address.
There is a "redevelopment" plan in the works for the West 2nd Street area between Arlington Avenue on the east and Washington Street on the west. The north/south boundaries run from West 1st Street on the south to the train trench on the north. (See the Google Earth map which shows the district area outlined in red.) That is the area shown to a group of interested people on May 21 of this year by Colin Robertson and Don Clark, of the Don J. Clark Group. We walked around the entire district and were shown what buildings were going to be spared and what buildings would be destroyed. The tour confirmed the many newspaper articles written about the redevelopment plan and a simple Google search online will bring up several articles and web pages such as: http://www.downtownmakeover.com/West-Second-Street-District-Renderings and https://west2nddistrict.com/
I'll let you explore the plans online and read the various articles, look at the flashy interactive renderings, and visualize this hugely-ambitious project which is expected to take several years to complete. Some wording online describes the new district as "...Reno’s first mixed-use neighborhood," and the language of the project includes words like: wellness, wonder, vibrant, efficiency and togetherness. Also this: "The District is a state-of-the-art showcase, an urban demonstration zone, for systems and strategies that make life easier, greener, safer, and flat-out more amazing."